Causes of Tooth Erosion and Decay

Causes of Tooth Erosion and Decay

Tooth decay and erosion

Tooth Decay and Erosion might sound similar, but they're separate conditions and require different treatment approaches. If you're dealing with a painful, worn or sensitive tooth, here's what causes tooth erosion and decay and how you might treat these problems.

Tooth erosion occurs when a tooth's outer shell- the enamel- wears away. Enamel protects the more vulnerable parts of your teeth from damage, so when it fades, your teeth become more sensitive. Signs of tooth erosion include:

  • Sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet foods
  • Teeth that look shinier or smoother than normal
  • Fillings become more visible over time

What Causes Tooth Erosion

Acids commonly cause decay, whether it's acid from a food or drink you consume or acid from your stomach

  • Acid weakens your tooth enamel, causing it to erode and weaken
  • Once the enamel weakens, the soft inner layers of the teeth are exposed, so they feel more sensitive and irritable

A dry mouth can make you vulnerable to tooth erosion because saliva neutralises acids.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay happens when a film called plaque accumulates around your teeth and gum line. Plaque contains bacteria that can wear down the tooth structure and lead to cavities or holes in your teeth that require fillings. Signs of tooth decay include:

  • Transient tooth pain
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain when biting down

Eventually, decay can cause tooth loss and dental emergencies such as tooth infections if left untreated.

What Causes Tooth Decay

Although tooth decay is similar to erosion, it has different causes:

  • If you don't maintain a strict oral hygiene routine, plaque can build on your teeth and weaken the enamel, leading to cavities
  • The bacteria in plaque thrive on sugar, so a high in sugar diet may cause cavities to form over time.

As with erosion, you're also prone to tooth decay if you have a dry mouth because saliva can help wash away bacteria and plaque on your teeth and gum line.

A diet high in sugar can cause cavities to grow over time, therefore it's best to try and limit your sugar intake.

Treating Tooth Erosion and Decay

You can protect your teeth by brushing and flossing daily and reducing the amount of sugary food and drink you consume. However if you do develop signs of erosion or dental decay, treatments include:

  • Fluoride Supplements
  • Dental Crowns
  • Root Canal Treatment

Contact Sleep Dentistry Melbourne

Attending regular check-ups can help your dentist detect tooth damage early, so it's best to have a check-up at least once every six months.

Do you have a sore or sensitive tooth? The team at Sleep Dentistry Melbourne can help. To book an appointment you can do so here, or you can call us on 1300 255 600.


Use the form below and one of dental staff will contact you.

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